In his new book, Mistrust, Ethan Zuckerman takes us on a kaleidoscopic tour of everyone from Gandhi to Bitcoin enthusiasts, Brexit voters to Black Lives Matter activists — people and groups whom he calls 'insurrectionists' because they are trying to overthrow or work around what has been a worldwide decline in social trust ... Zuckerman’s heroes have what he calls strong 'internal efficacy' (they believe they can do things) but low 'external efficacy' (they think political leaders don’t care about them). So they operate outside the system, pressuring retailers to change their approach to selling firearms, decentralizing institutions or shifting media coverage ... Recounting a conversation with the activist Eli Pariser, Zuckerman proclaims himself a 'resurrectionist' who believes that “we need institutions that deserve our passionate support and defense, and if the institutions we rely on now do not clear that bar, we need to demand new ones that take their place.' That seems correct and sensible, though it perhaps raises the question of what the point was in introducing the dichotomy in the first place.
An overview of the causes of our mistrust in the institutions we once held sacred ... All readers will agree that government, industry, and other trusted bodies have failed us in one way or another, and the author provides them with ample statistical data to prove it. How best to rebuild that trust—from within or without? It would be too easy for Zuckerman to criticize skeptics and insurrectionists as cranks or lunatics. Instead, the author provides solid examples of the many insurrectionists who have upended industries ... Throughout, the author uses concrete examples to illustrate his points—sometimes too many examples. The narrative could have benefitted from a deeper focus on fewer topics. A wide-ranging, occasionally overwhelming book that condemns failed institutions and challenges us to make needed change.
MIT Media Lab scholar Zuckerman examines high levels of mistrust in social institutions across the Western world in this passionate yet somewhat meandering account ... Zuckerman examines the causes of these dissatisfactions, including rising inequality and greater public access to information (and misinformation), and offers a wide-ranging discussion of the ways in which battered institutions can be rebuilt and replaced. He draws from the works of Francis Fukuyama, Hannah Arendt, and Albert Hirschman, and references political, corporate, and social disruptions ranging from the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements to Bitcoin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX ... Readers hoping the 2020 elections bring a sea change in American politics will be galvanized by this optimistic account.